A characteristic feature of our cultural environ-ment is the compression of time. Our IT (information technology) brings us more informa-tion at increasingly faster speeds, thereby making irrelevant distance or the quality of being patient. What evolutionary effects our light speed technol-ogy with its voluminous information will have on human brains remains to be seen. There are already hints that intense use of IT may shorten attention span, reduce social interaction skills and create addictive dependency.
I am not a “techie.” There is much about my PC’s capacities that I do not know or understand. I feel, at times, overwhelmed by the communications and information which come at me on the computer. Frequently, I have come to think that I am owned and controlled by technology rather than a user of a tool. If you share this feeling about our IT era, let me remind you that Jewish tradition has an antidote.
The antidote to being overwhelmed by speed, by incoming inundating information, personal isolation and dehumanization is Judaism’s sanctifi-cation and savoring of time. Time, events and occasion have always been valued over material objects and places. Being, living in the present, remembering the past, hoping in the future are what Jews have cherished and emphasized. The arena for making time and occasion holy is that twenty-four hour period we call Shabbat. Ideally, for those who celebrate Shabbat, we return to our humanity by slowing down, reading, being with family and community, making love, eating well and breathing deeply. The more commitment we bring to making Shabbat a special day, the more personal renewal we discover.
One could say that, in addition to Shabbat, our other major holy days and festivals are bubbles in time. We will soon enter the approaching High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah celebrates creation of the natural world. The liturgy states that Rosh Hashanah is also the birth of a world---a time for our own rebirth and renewal of relationships. Yom Kippur, called the Sabbath of Sabbaths, can be the ultimate savoring of time, reflecting on our being, past and future, reaffirming community.
My prayer for all of us as we approach the season of gathering time and celebrating our being is that we will breathe deeply, slow down, and ignore technology. Thus will we enter, for just a day or two, a dwelling of repair, growth and shalom.
Susie joins me in wishing our TJC community a new year of health and joy, fulfillment and peace.
Rabbi Paul J. Citrin
Taos Jewish Center